Marc Valero | Highlands TodaySEBRING - Auto sales revved up for the best August in five years nationwide, and locally dealerships are also seeing a boost that continues this month as buyers look for fuel efficiency and check out the new 2013 models.
Published: September 20, 2012
Published: September 20, 2012
After a slow July, U.S. car sales jumped nearly 20 percent in August compared to a year ago. Large pickup sales were also up nearly 16 percent nationwide due in part to builders benefitting from an increase in new home construction.
After an unusually slow summer, the Highlands County new car dealers report selling more vehicles in September and strong truck sales.
Bill and Josi Moroney were negotiating a deal Wednesday afternoon on a 2013 Chrysler 200 at Wells Motor co. in Avon Park.
"They are looking for something more economical," Bill said. "We have a Town 'n Country minivan [Chrysler/2007] that's not real good on gas millage."
Commenting on the new Chrysler 200, Josi said "It's pretty and peppy."
Jennifer Belcher of Avon Park bought a 2012 Chrysler 200 Wednesday at Wells Motor Co. to replace her 2004 Dodge Neon, which had more than 200,000 miles on it.
Wells Motor Co. owner Stanley Wells noted that May was the dealership's best month ever.
Sales improved in August after a "not so good" June and July, he said, and it appears September will be better than August.
"We still sell a lot of minivans; we sell a lot in Jeeps and Chrysler 200s and [Dodge] Avengers," which are midsize cars, Wells said. "We had an extremely good truck month last month in August."
Bill Jarrett Ford-Mercury General Manager Doug Gentry said, in contrast to national reports, they didn't have a sales increase during the summer. Sales were even in June, down in July and down in August compared to last year.
August is always tough in sales and service, he said. People are buying blue jeans and tennis shoes, but once school starts the car lot starts getting more traffic.
"But, September looks very promising," Gentry said. "Surprising enough, I am still in truck country and trucks are still our number one selling item."
When gas prices increased in August, there was a rush of people shopping for, but not necessarily buying, fuel-efficient cars, he noted.
Overall on the year, sales are up about 5 percent over last year, he said.
Alan Jay Automotive Network Director of Marketing and Public Relations Don Elwell said August sales were 10 percent higher than a year ago.
May, June and July were a bit slower, but overall sales are up nearly 10 percent so far this year compared to last year, he said. September is also trending very strong compared to September last year.
With the gas prices spiking, they are seeing a higher percentage of sales for the Ford models with the EcoBoost technology engines, which provide plenty of power but better fuel efficiency, Elwell said.
The redesigned 2013 Chevrolet Malibu is in stock, he said. They also have the Chevrolet Spark, a new hatchback that is very small, but bigger than a Smart car.
Also, the 2013 Toyota Camry, which is a very popular model in Highlands County, came out earlier in the year, Elwell noted.
"I suspect we will end the year between 10 percent to 15 percent up over 2011, which is still nowhere near the 2008 levels, but it's a lot better than previous years and it gives us a lot of reason for optimism," Elwell said.